By Alan Hutton

15th Sep, 2021 | 11:59am

Scots pundit backs Giakoumakis to make Celtic debut after early team news via BBC

Alan Hutton believes Celtic should hand Georgios Giakoumakis his debut against Real Betis on Thursday.

The former Scotland international, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, believes the slower pace of the Europa League tie gives the striker an opportunity to increase his match sharpness.

The BBC quoted Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou last week (September 10th) as he confirmed striker Kyogo Furuhashi would miss “three to four weeks” following an injury sustained away on international duty with Japan.

This leaves Giakoumakis and Albian Ajeti as Celtic’s only two recognised strikers following the summer departures of Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths.

Ajeti grasped the nettle in impressive fashion for Celtic against Ross County on Saturday – marking his first start of the season with a brace.

Postecoglou also warned that Giakoumakis was struggling for match fitness following a limited pre-season.

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As such, Hutton believes the Greek striker should make his mark from the bench in Thursday’s match.

“I think he will start on the bench,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“Ajeti’s two goals at the weekend will be enough for him to keep his place.

“Giakoumakis could be more suited to the slower pace of games that we sometimes see in the Europa League.

“We know obviously how many goals he managed to score last season, so it’d be good to see him off the bench.

“The only way you can get a player up to speed is by giving him minutes.

“Training is good, but he needs to play in order to get that match sharpness.

Giakoumakis signed for Celtic from VVV-Venlo last month for a reported £2.5million.

The Greece international netted 26 goals in 30 Eredivisie games to claim the league’s Golden Boot award.

In other news, La Liga expert has identified Betis’ key man ahead of Thursday’s clash.